If you’d like to hold Bitcoins or any other Cryptocurrencies for a long time then many will recommend you to generate a paper wallet. It is a cold storage wallet that is safe, secure and easy to maintain. Sending in coins into paper wallet is easy but the thing is to spend those coins you need to import it into a software wallet that has that functionality. You can do this by importing the private key or by sweeping the private keys of the paper wallet.
You can import / sweep the paper wallet into core wallet; however due to huge blockchain file size most users prefer a light weight wallet. Bitcoin Electrum is a light weight wallet that uses less resource and it is fast, secure and easy to use.
Not just for Bitcoin but Electrum wallet is also available for Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Verge, ZClassic and many other popular Cryptocurrencies. If you are using core or paper wallet for any of these coins then at one point of time you may wish to switch to electrum wallet. If so then this post is for you. Here in this beginners guide we’ll show you how to import / sweep private keys into electrum wallet.
Core and Paper wallet private keys
Users of Bitcoin QT wallet have blockchain punning and additionally they can move the wallet files to any hard drive to save disk space. But then this wallet still consumes a lot of resources. For this particular reason users prefer light weight wallet client like electrum. So in addition to importing paper wallet to electrum we’ll also cover importing core wallet to electrum.
Whether you are moving from core wallet to electrum wallet or like to import paper wallet to electrum you’ll just need the private keys of that particular wallet. While creating paper wallet you are provided with both public and private keys. We hope you have the private keys stored safely which is what we need to import or sweep funds.
Okay, but where can I find the private keys of my core wallet? Your core wallet consist of many different wallet addresses and each wallet address has its own private keys. So first you need to decide on which wallet address you have the coins held and which one you’d like to import.
Now using the following guide learn how to export private keys from core wallet. Once you have the private keys you can either import or sweep them into electrum wallet. But; what is the difference between importing and sweeping private keys in to electrum wallet?
Import or Sweep?
To get your coins from paper / core wallet into electrum wallet you have two options. You can either import private keys or sweep private keys into electrum wallet.
1. Importing private keys: If you’ve already setup electrum wallet then you cannot import private keys into that wallet. You’ll have to create a new electrum wallet to just import private keys. By importing; the private key and the wallet address associated with it becomes part of the electrum wallet. So basically your funds can be accessed using both the wallets. For example if you import private keys of core wallet to electrum then the coins associated with those keys can be accessed using both core and electrum wallet. You can safely encrypt core wallet. However you must note that imported electrum wallet does not have a mnemonic seed and it cannot not be encrypted.
2. Sweeping private keys: Sweeping private keys is a process in which all coins associated with that keys will get automatically transferred to new private keys. The private keys which you are sweeping doesn’t become part of the wallet. Instead they are send to a new wallet address that is generated by Electrum. This wallet address is deterministically generated from the wallet seed and hence you can backup / restore wallet from seed.
How to sweep / import private keys into electrum wallet
The process to sweep and import private keys to electrum wallet is very simple. Here is a step by step guide that covers both the methods.
Importing your private keys into Electrum
As we said you cannot import private keys into existing electrum wallet. You need to create a new wallet which will only contain wallet addresses of the private keys that you import. So before you import if you already have an existing electrum wallet then backup that file (Open Electrum; File >> Save copy) just in case. Once it is backed up follow the steps below to import private keys.
1. Open electrum.exe file and set a name for your wallet (ex: imported wallet or paper wallet). If you already have the wallet setup then go to file >> New/Restore and create a new wallet.
2. Now in installation wizard you’ll be asked to choose a wallet type. Select “Import Bitcoin addresses or private keys” option and click next.
3. Now on next screen enter the private key of the wallet which you’d like to import. You can import any number of private keys at a time but remember that one private key per line.
Once you’ve entered all the private keys click on next. The electrum wallet will import all the wallet addresses and the funds associated with those private keys.
That’s it! Now let’s see how to sweep private keys into Electrum wallet.
Sweeping your private keys into Electrum
Note: By sweeping; all contents of the private key is send to a new address in your existing deterministic electrum wallet. Sweeping is just like sending coins from one address to another on chain so it will cost a small transaction fee. Also to sweep private keys you don’t need to create a new wallet like you did above. All electrum wallets will have this option by default.
1. Open electrum wallet, choose your wallet (if you have more than one wallet) and enter your wallet password.
2. Once you have gained access to your wallet go to your wallet menu >> Private Keys >> Sweep.
3. Now on next screen input all the private keys (one per line) that you’d like to sweep and then choose an address from your wallet. This address is where all the funds that belong to those private keys will be sent.
Once every input is perfect click on sweep which will take you to send tab. Now confirm transactions and electrum wallet will take care of the rest. In a moment you’ll see all Bitcoin’s associated with those private keys transferred to the address you chose.
That’s it! Hope this guide helps anyone looking to import / sweep coins to electrum wallet. If you have any questions regarding this then please mention it in the comments area. We’ll be happy to assist and do note that the private keys shown here are only for the sake of this tutorial. You must never ever disclose your private keys to anyone like this. Also paper wallets are outdated and they carry risk so move your funds to a software wallet.